Dead Wrestlers: Leaving it all in the ring

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Professional wrestling has had more than it’s fair share of tragedy. Dead wrestlers — or more accurately, wrestlers dying young — is something that the general public seems to accept as “part of the deal.” It’s astounding when you realize that the death rate of wrestlers is significantly more than the rate of other “hazardous” vocations.

Keith Pinckard is a medical examiner in Dallas that has been researching wrestling fatalities. In this piece, he’s quoted as saying that the death rate of wrestlers is seven times higher than the standard population. They’re 12 times more likely to perish from heart disease (age 25-to-44) and an astonishing 20 times more likely to die before age 45 than professional football players.

Check out this chart from, which takes a look at WWF/E wrestlers who are or who would be younger than 60 years of age by now. They’d also have had to appear in at least 20 PPV’s from 1985 through 2002. They came up with a total of 203 wrestlers who fit that mold and the numbers are frightening.

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A look at the deaths from wrestlers who died younger than 60 since 2010 illustrates this point (with wrestling moniker and age at death):

  • Ultimate Warrior, 54
  • Big Daddy V, 42
  • Doink the Clown, 55
  • Paul Bearer, 58
  • Brad Armstrong, 51
  • Randy Savage, 58
  • Luna Vachon, 48
  • Lance Cade, 29
  • Chris Kanyon, 40

Why is this happening? Who should we blame?

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